The decline of the Match Play World Cup: “It’s sad, I hope it returns”

It’s the end of an era. That of the World Golf Championships. A format designed to bring together the best players in the world on more occasions throughout the calendar comes to an end this week with what will be the last edition of what has been unofficially called World Match Play (officially Dell Technologies Match Play). It will be the third event of its kind to fall, after the extinction of the WGC Championship and the WGC Invitational in 2021, with the WGC-HSBC Champions fallow since 2019 (it had been taking place in China and has been canceled for the last three years due to the pandemic ).

The new strategy of the PGA to compete with the LIV, based among other things on the institution of what has been called ‘elevated events’ (something like ‘designated events’ in Spanish), a series of tournaments with more lucrative prize pools and the commitment of the best of the circuit to participate in them, has made the format obsolete in a certain sense. And in the particular case of the Match Play World Cup, the truth is that its structure, a group phase followed by a knockout phase, makes it an indigestible product for sponsors and television channels, who want the stars on the field as many days as possible. That the Austin Country Club of Texas (USA), home of the event since 2016, has requested an injection of money into the circuit has been received as the perfect excuse to air this event on the calendar, although the PGA Commissioner, Jay Monahan, He has not publicly ruled out his recovery in the future.

But, despite everything, the reality is that many players, and surely many fans of this sport as well, will regret the loss of a tournament that was fun because it was exceptional, because it was the only regular event on the golf calendar with this modality, that of the ryder and the Presidents Cup, face-to-face matches over 18 holes, with one point for each hole won (better result than your rival) and half for those tied.

One of those who have publicly shown their disappointment has been jon rahm. “It is very sad that it is the last edition,” said the Biscayan in the press conference prior to his confrontation with Rickie Fowler this Wednesday (5:54 p.m., Movistar Golf), his debut in a group stage that will also measure him against Billy Horschel and Keith Mitchell. “I love match play, so I hope it’s only a matter of a year and we’ll have an event of this type on the calendar again soon,” he added. “As a player it is an opportunity to play a different type of golf. It’s the only time of the year, apart from the Ryder Cup, where you actually play against the person next to you, comparable to other sports. It is a much more aggressive format. You see more birdies, a lot more things happen, ”he recounted.

Another one who will miss Austin is scottie scheffler, the current champion and number one in the world. “I like the simplicity of it. All you have to do is go out there and try to beat the guy in front. If you do, you win; if not, you lose, ”he pointed out. “It’s fun golf. Obviously we wouldn’t want something like this every week, because it’s volatile and the best player doesn’t always win… but yes, I love match play”, said Rickie Fowler. It is precisely this volatility, which, however, has not resulted in too many surprises in the list of winners (Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald or Matt Kuchar are among the winners), is precisely what makes it different, special, this version of golf that for now, sadly, will not have a place on the annual agenda.

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